Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Sunday, 25 January 2009

Ten killed in Turkish avalanche

Rescue workers on Mount Zigana, Turkey (25/01/2009)
Search teams managed to rescue two of the climbers

An avalanche in north-east Turkey has killed 10 climbers, while seven others from the same group managed to survive.

Two of the climbers remain in hospital, after being rescued by search teams on Mount Zigana, in Gumushane province.

"Our pain is great. I extend my condolences to the families of the victims," said Housing Minister Faruk Nafiz Ozak, who visited the scene.

Officials said the avalanche may have been caused by unusually warm temperatures loosening snow.

The avalanche struck at about 1100 (0900 GMT) as the climbers were at a height of 7,260ft (2,200m), Turkish NTV television reported.

Mr Ozak said the climbers were crossing a deep valley when a huge block of snow dislodged and hit the group - members of a mountaineering club in neighbouring Trabzon province.

Search teams and locals equipped with shovels, and accompanied by sniffer dogs, scoured the slopes for bodies and survivors.


One of the survivors, 60-year-old Rahmi Keles, said he saw the avalanche approaching but was pulled under it.

He told Turkish media he had managed to clear the snow from his face and shout to a fellow climber for help.

"I had no chance of getting out alone. She forked out the snow and released first my left, then my right leg.

"Without Yonca I would not have survived," he told the state-run Anatolian news agency.

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